Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Picnic Cake

With one of our biggest summer holidays coming up, I thought I'd post a recipe for a great picnic cake. It's one of my mom's recipes I've been making since I was a kid. With the topping baked into the cake, once cooled and covered it holds up well even tipped on its side in my picnic suitcase. It's been a hit at every potluck I've taken it to and often shows up at family camping trips, brought by one sister or another.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Picnic Cake (9" x 13" flat cake)
1 ¾ cup boiling water
1 cup uncooked oatmeal (I use rolled oats)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
 ½ cup butter or other shortning
2 eggs
1 ¾ cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
12 oz package chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven 350ยบ. Grease and lightly flour a 9" x 13" cake pan. Put oats in mixing bowl and add the boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Add butter, brown and white sugars and stir until the butter melts. Add eggs and mix well. Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa and add to the oats mixture, mix well. Stir in half the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle walnuts and remaining chocolate chips over the top. Bake 40 minutes, and test with toothpick (until the toothpick comes out clean).

I won my picnic suitcase in a raffle years ago. It wasn't really my style - I was more the lunch cooler and canvas bag type So, at first I planned on perhaps re-gifting it, then thought maybe I could use it as decorative storage for linens or such. But then one day, I was getting ready for a Sierra Club potluck. Now, with a tree-hugging group like that, one simply does not take paper plates and disposable flatware. I was getting ready to dig out my camping gear when it hit me. I already had the perfect picnic/potluck set-up, up there on top of the coat armoire. My vintage cake pan fits perfectly, with even room for a bottle of wine. I'm still tweaking the contents. I've added dessert plates, and use my cloth napkins to wrap the wine glasses and serving utensils. It's now a very useful part of both my living room decor and many summer outings.

The cake pan I inherited from my mother-in-law. I figure she got it at a yard sale. Scratched onto the top it says, "Happy Birthday to Winnie from Laura, March 7, 1959" and neither of those are family names. It's obviously seen its share of past potlucks or church dinners too. Winnie Vincent scratched her name onto both sides of the pan itself. The slide-on metal top holds up so much better than today's plastic pan covers. The pan is deeper than most cake pans too, making it my go-to pan for batches of wintertme lasagna. So Ms Vincent, if you're still out there - thank you! I love it!